Willpower is a true superpower. If you can’t control yourself, you’re at the mercy of random factors with the power to hold you back.
There are many synonyms for willpower we use every day, including drive, determination, self-discipline, and self-control. But psychologists look at willpower and break it down into several key components:
- Delayed gratification or resisting immediate temptations in favor of meeting your long-term goals
- The ability to discard an unhelpful thought or impulse
- The discipline to utilize a “cool” cognitive system of behavior instead of being ruled by your “hot” emotions
- Purposeful self-regulation
In essence, power springs from the conviction that what you want to do will be worth your time and effort. When you believe your goals are worthy, you’re far more likely to stay the course.
Strong-willed people are not all talk and no action, they accomplish what they intend to do. They aren’t easily swayed by other people or even their own emotions. These single-minded folks are more likely to succeed than those lacking such determination.
So what’s the difference between being strong-willed and just plain stubborn? After all, a stubborn person sticks to their guns, not unlike someone who’s considered strong-willed.
That can be a double-edged sword.
If your ideas are sound, stubbornly pursuing them can lead to success. But, if your ideas are lacking, being strong-willed and stubborn can hold you back from achieving your goals.
Here are traits that strong-willed individuals share.
A confident person believes that they are capable of doing whatever they want to do.
Where does that confidence come from?
Self-esteem, which is how highly you regard yourself.
OK, but where does that self-esteem come from?
Self-esteem is built over time by your achievements. Reaching your smaller goals results in small but still significant gains in self-esteem, while bigger achievements lead to even bigger gains in your self-esteem.
But to esteem oneself, you must love yourself.
2) Unconditional self love
Most people think we can whip ourselves into shape with punishing routines we don’t even like. It’s a crummy way to live your life and sets you up for inevitable failure.
You’re bound to overindulge once you’ve endured enough self-inflicted torture. If you want to cultivate good habits, a key factor in success is pleasure.
What we need to remember is that productivity can also be enjoyable when we decide to frame it like that. So, if you want to strengthen your willpower, get creative with finding new and pleasurable ways to give yourself unconditional love.
And always keep focused on steady growth.
3) Growth mindset
Strong-willed people are resilient because they have a growth mindset. Those with a rigid mindset believe their abilities are finite. But people with a growth mindset know better and believe they can step up and meet any challenge.
Strong-willed people are laser-focused on their goals but are flexible about what methods it takes to reach them. You can be stubborn about your ideas but willing to learn in the interest of meeting those goals.
A growth mindset requires that we focus on values, not perfection.
When we expect no less than perfection, we restrict ourselves with arbitrary rules to cultivate a false sense of control. This can cause you to fear making mistakes, which is counterproductive to growth.
Perfectionism sets you up for failure. When we make mistakes because we’re only human, perfectionism can turn this experience into a crisis of confidence followed by a shame spiral.
Resilience is the knack to bounce back quickly after experiencing setbacks. You’re guaranteed to face obstacles while pursuing your goals. That’s just life, my friends.
This can pop your confidence balloon. A lot of people throw in the towel when the going gets rough. But strong-willed people bounce back when they hit rock bottom since they believe their goals are worth pursuing.
A good heaping helping of self-reliance also doesn’t hurt.
Strong-willed people don’t need anyone else’s validation, as they are motivated by self-conviction.
In fact, their words and behavior tend to ruffle feathers. But strong-willed people remain unfazed by this because they don’t really care about others’ opinions of them.
They don’t need, want, or seek external validation for their plans. They are assertive by nature and just go for it.
Assertiveness is stating your ideas and opinions in a non-aggressive yet non-submissive manner.
If you don’t believe you’re a capable person with worthy ideas, you’ll most likely be submissive and passive in your dealings with other people.
If you’re worried that your ideas will get rejected, you may find yourself wanting to aggressively impose them.
Assertiveness is the happy medium between aggression and submissiveness. Strong-willed people have faith in their ideas and present them without hesitation or need for force.
Decisiveness is the name of the game.
When your ideas are worth pursuing, you don’t just chill and wait for the perfect moment to implement them. Strong-willed people have a strong propensity for action.
The trick is moving quickly from ideation to execution. Determined folks are proactive, forward-thinking, and are willing to pay the price for their desires.
People with incredible willpower understand that pushing themselves out of their comfort zone is inevitable if they desire real change.
We need to be honest with ourselves and others about what we truly want out of life.
Strong-willed people are straight shooters who prefer to be honest with themselves and with others. After careful self-assessment, they understand what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Pragmatism is a characteristic of the strong-willed. They tend to stay in their lanes and never pretend to be something they’re not, and they take full responsibility for the trajectory of their lives.
People who are strong-willed people take full responsibility for their achieving their dreams and goals. They usually possess an internal locus of control, rather than blaming outside forces like the economy, and are firmly at the reins of their own existence.
Being intentional is the opposite of being impulsive. Impulsive people are like falling leaves, just moving where the wind takes them.
Intentional people have a handle on their impulses and reactions because they know impulsiveness can compromise their goals.
People with willpower aren’t slaves to their emotions and can delay gratification until the time is right.
Of course, watching and learning from other strong-willed individuals is inspirational and motivational.
People with willpower look at a successful person’s achievement and use that as inspiration for their own game plan.
Instead of begrudging others’ success, direct that energy towards honing down your goals and making them happen. When strong-willed people see other people succeed, it reinforces the fact that they can achieve their objectives, too.
A person who doesn’t have the high-end self-esteem that goes along with a strong will gets jealous easily. This is because others’ victories trigger their insecurities, not inspire them to do better.
Know what you want
You need to clarify your goals before you can meet them.
The first step to developing greater willpower is narrowing down what you want your life to look like and why. This helps you decide what actions are best suited to your plan and what scenarios to avoid.
Once you have a plan, implement it. There’s no time like the present to put your dreams in motion.